KARACHI: Third seed Majid Ali and fourth seed Muhammad Bilal crashed in the preliminary rounds of the Jubilee Insurance Ranking Snooker Championship 2018 whose league matches concluded here at the Karachi Gymkhana on Friday.
Second seed Babar Masih stayed unbeaten in the preliminary rounds as he chalked up a superlative break of 104 during the course of his fifth successive victory.Top seeded and defending champion Muhammad Asif reached the quarter-finals by knocking out eighth seed Asjad Iqbal in a seven-frame thriller.
Sixth seed Zulfiqar Abdul Qadir sneaked into the last eight despite losing to Majid in a close fight. Fifth seed Muhammad Ijaz, who had lost his first four games, caused the stunning ouster of Bilal by hammering him in their last league fixture.
After the flurry of upsets throughout the four days of preliminary rounds, only three of the eight seeded cueists, Asif, Babar and Zulfiqar, managed to reach the quarter-finals.
The other quarter-finalists are Shahid Aftab, Asif Toba, Rambail Gul, Sharjeel Mahmood and Haris Tahir.
Shahid, Babar, Asif and Rambail shared the top four positions and their opponents for the quarter-finals were decided through draws.
The best-of-nine-frame quarter-finals, due to start at 10 am, will be played simultaneously on Saturday (today). Shahid will be pitted against Toba, Rambail will combat Sharjeel, Asif will lock horns with Zulfiqar and Babar will take on Haris.
Toba topped the Group A by winning all his five league matches. Asif ended as the runner-up. Asjad was relegated to the fourth position in the points table.
Babar, enjoying his best year in the national circuit, topped the Group B with five straight wins. Sharjeel claimed the runner-up slot ahead of seventh seed Aakash Rafique, Muhammad Shahbaz and Khurram Hussain Agha.
There was a three-horse race in the Group C with Majid, Zulfiqar and Rambail having won three matches each. The top two positions were decided on the basis of frame difference, resulting in the exit of Majid.
Shahid, a former national champion, won all his five matches to top the Group D. Bilal and Ijaz were eliminated as young Haris snatched the runner-up spot.
Results: Sirbuland Khan (KP) bt Asif Toba (Punjab) 4-3 (51-28, 34-58, 7-72, 70-28, 30-64, 61-33, 63-53); Sharjeel Mahmood (KP) bt Muhammad Shahbaz (Punjab) 4-3 (76-32, 73-13, 6-72, 70-39, 30-71, 36-66, 80-31); Umair Alam (Sindh) bt Ahsan Javaid (Punjab) 4-3 (8-68, 11-77, 47-60, 78-50, 97-0, 65-41, 54-39); Shahid Aftab (Punjab) bt Ali Haider (Punjab) 4-2 (84-, 29-63, 45-55, 59-4, 77-1, 96-5); Sohail Shahzad (Sindh) bt Agha Bilawal (Sindh) 4-3 (63-36, 85-2, 86-39, 26-48, 32-74, 57-68, 104-1); Khurram Hussain Agha (Sindh) bt Naseem Akhtar (Punjab) 4-3 (39-75, 42-72, 13-41, 55-44, 70-36, 70-17, 61-43); Abdul Sattar (Sindh) bt Rambail Gul (KP) 4-1 (68-19, 54-62, 42-13, 51-10, 58-45); Haris Tahir (Punjab) bt Sultan Muhammad (Sindh) 4-3 (27-65, 46-75, 61-7, 74-1, 71-42, 30-56, 77-7); Muhammad Asif (Punjab) bt Asjad Iqbal (Punjab) 4-3 (12-62, 81-19, 31-67, 70-23, 11-93, 77-45, 24-20); Babar Masih (Punjab) bt Aakash Rafique (KP) 4-1 (67-28, 52-54, 68-32, 62-16, 110-20); Majid Ali (Punjab) bt Zulfiqar Abdul Qadir (Sindh) 4-3 (110-11, 10-61, 30-62, 66-65, 75-36, 31-69, 66-42); Muhammad Ijaz (Punjab) bt Muhammad Bilal (Punjab) 4-1 (72-25, 43-06, 64-57, 29-65, 53-23); Umair Alam (Sindh) bt Abdul Sattar (Sindh) 4-3 (39-37, 5-60, 66-39, 54-44, 10-65, 33-66, 53-31).